Change management overview

You may have wondered as well: mankind is able to survive on the moon, in polar ice and creates air-conditioned skyscrapers. We learn Japanese, calculus, and how to make an outstanding soufflé. Why is it that tasks like using a new IT interface, distributing responsibility within a team in a fair way, adapting one’s behavior to a new strategy or shifting a business model from technical perfection to customer-focus pose such a big challenge to us?

Even though evolution taught us to adapt to various extreme conditions, our brain strives for stability. We tend to be stagnant and a change of behavior requires the authentic insight “I want to, can, may, and must change myself.”

We use change management to help our clients master change challenges – typically within a period of 18 to 36 months. Change management comprises the structured administration of a range of methods that help people want to, can, may, and must change their mindsets and behavior.

Change management’s core elements

What is our approach? Pragmatic diagnostics, e.g., using confidential depth interviews and goal-oriented communication, e.g., in creative and interactive large group events, are indispensable for every change process. Conception and realization of actions like “What does it mean for me?” workshops, individual and team coachings, the adaptation of incentive and compensation systems or job descriptions vary with the business topic that is the background of the change. Topics like strategy implementation, cultural development, post merger integration, topteam development, or change to support a business project like an IT roll-out.

What is so special about us?

We reeeally shape change with our clients, using all change knowledge, experience, and methods available in the world. We unite seriousness with humor, intellect with personal warmth, well-structured work with social competence, and professionalism with enthusiasm. We are “perpetrators of conviction” for change and try to do our part in making the world a better place.

This is not only to make everyone feel good, but because it leads to the best results – for the individual, the team, and the entire company.

Change communication

Contrary to common assumptions, change management is NOT interchangeable with communication even though communicatoin is a particularly important part of change management.

Change communication resembles the dernière in theater: both story and messages are carefully planned, but as the People involve Play pranks on each other, the ability to respond flexibly and confidently is required.

One can’t determine communicative tools previously in a meaningful way and then roll them out in a straight line. You can compare it to a meeting, a negotiation, or a conflict: You may enter with a clear strategy, but ultimately you have to improvise and go with the flow. Thus, the competence to design precise communication concepts from scratch whilst still keeping enough flexibility to mold unstable situations is essential. We succeed in doing that also for large corporations.

Strategic communication concept

A strategic communication concept serves as the frame for change communication. In cooperation with our Clients, we develop it in 5 steps:

  1. Determine your communication goals
  2. Structure according to target groups that need to be addressed differently
  3. Define concrete and coherent contents, including a comprehensible and persuasive change story and key messages
  4. Chose direct and indirect communication channels, e.g., inspiring speeches, witty (mainly internal) change post cards and videos featuring success stories
  5. Create a communication time plan

What makes Timmermann outstanding in change communication?

Remember the last sentence someone told you and that was downright engraved in your memory?

Chances are high that it didn’t only address your rational thinking but also touched you on an emotional level. This aspect is key to our communication approach: we are used to comprehend people in-depth, including their attitudes, emotions, values, and needs. Thus, we support our clients in addressing these different layers of human interaction in their own change communication.

Emotional, yet cognitively insightful, experiences are the main drivers for change. We call them “moments of truth”. Anyone who can recall Martin Luther King’s speech at the Washington Monument understands why it energized such a great number of people to work persistently for the enormous cultural change to follow. We help to create those “moments of truth”, e.g., in large group events

Strategy implementation

In our understanding, a strategy is a portfolio of initiatives that help reach main goals which in sum operationalize a vision.

Most strategies however, are not implemented to the satisfaction of their creators. There is the common misperception of the board and their aides as a big brain that works out new strategies which then “just are to be executed” by managers and employees.

Reality paints a different picture. Even very precise and detailed implementation plans tend to fail or leave gaps.

Difficulties in strategy implementation

Written material and lectures don’t suffice to fully make sense of and eventually live a strategy. Oftentimes, neither managers nor employees have sufficient resources – time, energy, capability, or motivation – to derive the concrete implications from a new strategy for their own daily business without real change support.

It takes both enormous cognitive and emotional effort to really consider a strategy in daily decision processes. This issue especially remains elusive to the ones already familiar with the strategy. Due to an “expert bias” they tend to not understand the difficulties and therefore are unable to help solve them.

Above that, it takes the first attempt of the strategy implementation to uncover its potential snags and loopholes just as questions that still need to be answered. It is elementary to plan for necessary iteration loops, otherwise reality could easily thwart all plans

What successful implementation looks like

The successful strategy implementation projects we have accompanied so far followed two basic principles:

  • Take into account the whole change process already at the beginning of the implementation and design the strategy development process accordingly
  • Support leaders and employees with a critical amount of tools along the 4 change levers

Naturally, top management should always decide on the strategy’s basic features. But for the key leaders in middle management really to commit to the strategy, it is crucial to engage them early in the thought process as well. That is, they should have worked through alternatives and different arguments themselves – before the strategy is well-prepared and ready for presentation. That establishes the Basis to take responsibility during implementation – something often missed by top leaders. Decisions and strategies improve in their content as another positive consequence of a moderate participative approach

Our unique Timmermann contribution

We don’t just shape the implementation process of a preliminarily approved strategy. We also use our experience in classical top management strategy consulting to improve your strategy development itself.  We always consider the “hard” and “soft” aspects. Together with our clients, we conduct concrete analyses, help with clear storylining, moderate the (partly participative) strategy development process, enhance creativity, and prepare the implementation while still considering its practicability. This combination enables you to develop a clear and extraordinary strategy that everyone can easily grasp and eventually fully live

Topteam development

The fish rots from the head down. If the leadership team doesn’t really work as a team– how is the organization supposed to? Leadership teams usually consist of experienced, intelligent, successful, and sometimes narcissistic “alphas”. It’s not uncommon that the individual board members, directors or top managers compete with each other. On top, their calendars hardly allow them to take care of the “soft” topics which eventually have a strong effect on their own and the company’s performance:

  • Trust
  • Team dynamics
  • Using own and others’ strengths and handling weaknesses
  • Information and knowledge exchange
  • Conflict handling
  • Responsibility taking
  • Leadership
  • Shared analytical problem solving skills and methods

Of course, a “topteam” already possesses these skills – right? For that which must not, cannot be. However, part of every good team is continuous improvement and learning as an open learning community. So even if you think, your topteam is already good – let’s make it greater! It’s worth the effort

Elements of topteam development

Based on pragmatic diagnostics, several days lasting topteam trainings at extraordinary locations are combined with measures in daily business (such as meeting shadowing, team Coaching, and optional individual coaching). The topteam is bound together with more closeness and trust conglomerates and pushes its cooperation to the top performance levels all excellent members already possess as individuals.

To do so, the topteam needs to allow itself to go through a real team development process. Investing time in this process is one of the best choices a company and a topteam can make. That implies working intensely on the team’s cooperation over a period of 6-12 months with intermittent interventions. No worries, appetite comes with eating, because at the beginning, topteams often are not ready to commit to such a process.

We often use a topteam development process as the starting-point of the change process, e.g., for a serious cultural development process in the company. This makes the change process a lot more credible and leads more quickly to success

What’s special about Timmermann team development processes

We contribute our creativity, appreciative warmth, and concentrated expertise as coaches, moderators, psychologists, and consultants to the fullest. Doing so, we approach every topteam member on eye-level. We help them work on their conflicts in an appreciative and very direct way. We have an unusual number and quality of methods and our team trainers are among the best in the world.

The team experiences an eye-opening team development journey in which they internalize 10 secrets of high performance teams and run through 4 phases

Change diagnostics

When it comes to diagnostics in change processes, usually three questions arise:

  • How does our change process concretely benefit from diagnostics?
  • How can we realize diagnostics pragmatically? We don’t want to make it a scientific exercise
  • How can we measure the success of our change process?

Benefits of change diagnostics

A pragmatic diagnostic phase at the beginning of a change process helps our clients in a number of ways:

1. Everyone involved gets a better understanding of the challenges. The current status, the necessary changes and their reasons and the goal become clearer. The combination of our psychological expertise and solid top management consulting skills enables us to proceed in a structured, pragmatic, and profound way. Our clients get an idea of the underlying reasons of various dynamics in their company. At the same time, complex interrelations and a concrete frame of important starting points are uncovered in the structured analysis of our diagnostic results. Only diagnostics enable us to design really goal-oriented and customized/tailored actions

2. Diagnostic measures enable us to estimate a client’s „change readiness“ (e.g., with the change readiness survey). We discover right at the beginning …:

  • How different departments, groups, and individuals tend to deal with the change (e.g., along our “change types”)
  • Which sub-processes are likely to encounter particular resistance
  • The degree to which employees have understood the need for Change
  • The scope of personal openness for behavioral and mindset change

3. Diagnostics also serve as a first intervention. Leaders and employees realize that something is starting to happen and that their engagement is important. Their personal reflection for example may start with depth-interviews with a representative cross-section of the organization.

In a “mirror workshop” the top leaders and those people otherwise involved in the project are confronted with the results. This is where we have the courage to reeeally address critical topics directly – even in “shoot the messenger” cultures.

Design diagnostics pragmatically

No worries, we keep the assessment pragmatic and efficient, e.g., by only conducting depth-interviews with a representative sample. We also use brief diagnostic workshops and customized short surveys, so called “pulse checks”.

If you want to get a quick idea of one or more of your sites, we recommend our “rapid scan” which aims at identifying the core problems of the organization in only a few weeks and also collects first solution approaches.

Measure change success

Many clients attach importance, at least at the beginning of a change process, to know clearly which quantifiable results will proove success.

Our answer to that consists of two parts:
There are a number of reasonable methods to measure success quantitatively. A successfully implemented strategy will show in for instance increased revenue of new, strategically important products. A truly lived new efficiency culture will reflect in the average duration of meetings. Surveys about employee satisfaction, pulse check results – there is an array of methods. It is important to be action-oriented in the analysis of KPIs, to focus on a small number of really important KPIs and to have a clear analytical understanding of the relations between the KPIs, e.g., with the help of a “value driver tree”.

However, for the “soft side” of the change process, your personal feeling can be a just as relevant and valid indicator. Highest efficiency, for example, can only be achieved on a basis of trust. Trying to create a standardized process and a rule for everything in order to “force” people to be efficient does just the opposite. In an environment of trust, the amount of endless discussions and political detours reduces drastically. And this you can feel as soon as you enter a room.

Often this clear tangible feeling of success makes clients devaluate the importance of a detailed measurement of the change process’ success. They replace the motto “what you can’t measure you can’t manage” with “leadership is more important than management”

Cultural development

Are you familiar with at least some of these thoughts about cultural development?

  • “Culture? That can be everything and nothing – not tangible at all.”
  • “I know it’s important, but I still haven’t managed to make sense of this topic.”
  • “You can’t really influence culture.”
  • “In order to change our business culture, we’d have to replace our entire staff, at least most leaders and managers.”

To begin with, we want to make the topic a bit catchier with the following minimal definition of business culture: “The way we do things around here”. This includes how managers lead their teams, how we treat each other and ourselves, how we make decisions, how efficient, effective, and cross-silo people work as well as how open to new experiences and how entrepreneurial they are

The biggest challenges in working on corporate culture

Many decision makers in organizations would like to have the opportunity to actively design their corporate culture. Especially big and/or long-existing companies often have an urgent demand for a development from risk aversion to increased renewal and from individualism to more collectivism. This development is necessary to enter new markets, master digitization, respond more flexibly to clients’ needs, be efficient, and achieve high employee satisfaction and engagement.

Some – unsuccessfully – try to change culture with a “managerial attitude”. That is, they focus on processes, clear quantitative goal-setting, giving instructions, and changing structures. Others simply give up and come to the conclusion that a blurry concept like culture just isn’t in their sphere of influence.

Actively design culture

To make cultural development more tangible and transfer it to daily business, changes in the “How?” should be tied to concrete changes in the “What?”. A specific leadership style, for example, supports the development of new products.

However, during such a process, a few aspects remain open that can and should be managed: Frequent employee appraisals with supporting processual and content guidelines may somewhat increase leadership quality, for example.

True cultural development however, only occurs if a critical mass of individuals work on their individual behavioral and thought patterns, supporting each other in doing so. That leads to a change of how things are done in the daily “How?”. People treat each other differently, dare to step out of their comfort zone and come to a new definition of their roles as employees and leaders.

Some people believe that humans just aren’t able to really change. Creeds like “You either are a born leader or you aren’t a leader at all” reduce people’s confidence in their ability to change.

From a psychological and empirical point of view, that is just wrong. Many characteristics, also personality traits, are not completely innate or unchangeable. With the right amount of motivation and professional and cooperative support extensive change is possible, even probable.

Concrete actions in the Timmermann style

In order to develop a company culture consciously, we work very closely with our clients in a transformational relationship. Together, we set up a specific program that works through concrete measures, e.g.:

  • Cultural diagnostics
  • Topteam development and team development for pivotal teams
  • Special large group events with “moments of truth”
  • Change leader trainings
  • Training, introduction, and continued support of a cultural ambassadors network
  • Shadowing and coaching for intensive work on individual change

Our psychological expertise and our change spirit help us to explain exactly why and how changes in cultural and individual patterns are possible. At the same time, we enable our clients to really understand and change themselves

Functional project change support

Have you ever worked on a functional project that bogged down even though the content solution was a good one? When your employees, e.g., didn’t …

  • … use the new IT system
  • … live new processes
  • … take over their new roles in the new organization structure satisfyingly

The principle is always the same: the required mindset and behavior changes haven’t yet gotten through to the people.

Often, this is because at the beginning no one had thought through which concrete mindset and behavioral changes were actually required by the functional project. Or it was underestimated how difficult or unpleasant it was for people to behave in the new way

Use change management

In order for such change processes to work you should use change management in two ways:

  • Think from the change perspective right at the start, e.g., to shape participative processes accordingly and to enter test phases early
  • Accompany the implementation with great change support

To achieve that good functional solutions are fully understood and accepted, it is crucial to integrate future users early-on in the thought process. Participation is no synonym for grassroots democracy. Clear guidelines should be set, within which people can shape things. It’s not about fulfilling everyone’s wishes.

However, if the solution will most likely be better if more people give input, you should make sure this happens. Also, if participation increases the probability of implementation in your specific situation, this is another sign that you should ensure participation. change instead of coming to allegedly better Solutions.

Clean and smooth implementation addresses the concrete desired and needed mindsets and behaviors. It uses all 4 change levers to really transfer the change to the individual. In process optimization, e.g., the following measures might help:

  • Communication concept: ensures that the right information reaches the right target group at the right time in the right way. It also addresses people’s emotions (e.g., fears) and is not only about passing on information
  • Process trainings including experiential process simulations: Help affected people to really live the new processes
  • Communication of success stories: share concrete positive consequences of the changes
  • Pit stop workshops: collect experiences with the changes in order to improve them continuously and the way people deal with them and are supported to do so

Why us?

We are experienced change consultants as well as clasically trained strategy consultants. This enables us to orchestrate not only workshop series but also big and complex projects that cover all 4 change levers also in large organizations.

If required, we also support our clients in strategic and functional questions with content-specific sparring or support in participative processes

M&A change support

The deal is signed. The board members of two former independent companies are now facing each other with the same question in their eyes: “Who’s the boss?”. Middle management is arming as well: Who is going to be head of R&D? Who is going to lead sales? The game is on.

It is common knowledge that mergers and acquisitions bear a high risk. Empirics suggest that 50-80% of M&As don’t reach their Goals, many even have a negative effect on shareholder value. Battles for power amongst leaders is only one of many typical change challenges.

Most M&As fail for one of the following reasons:

  • Culture differences
  • HR integration problems
  • Problems in leaders’ commitment
  • Integration problems in financial reporting
  • Too little employee engagement

Nevertheless, M&A are often a very effective if not even the only way to enable rapid growth or seize new markets.

How can you minimize an M&A deals’s risk to fail?

Generally, the answer is simple:  From the beginning onwards you need to consider the clean strategic, processual, and structural business integration as well as employees’ and leaders’ mindsets and behaviors. This includes a proactively steering the handling of the different corporate cultures.

However, caring starts even before the actual merger with a cultural due diligence. How well does the culture of the target company fit your own? What opportunities and risks are likely to emerge in this area?

Good change diagnostics and a great change concept is required when the actual integration starts at the latest. It enables foreseeing typical human dynamics in an integration process and dealing with them, e.g., high uncertainty.

Topteam development – a very important step at the beginning of the integration

M&As that start with a development of the (partly newly assembled) topteam are more successful. Professional disagreements and interpersonal conflicts at this level usually inhibit the integration crucially and impede the use of synergies.

In an intensive team development process, the topteam can build a new level of trust and establish a great mode of working together. At the same time, their leadership qualities in the special merger context can be improved and facilitate a smooth integration process that yields the desired benefits.

Our special competence for M&A

It is one of our core competences to shape instable and insecure situations. Structuredness, human warmth at the same time and professional change knowledge help us to provide more security and clarity. We especially empower leaders to give more of the latter. We are equipped with partly self-developed and road-tested tools, actions, and models as well as the necessary experience to shape cultural integration in a way that facilitates combining the best of two worlds. We are a very active member of the German M&A Association and give regular lectures on the topic.

Top management consulting overview

Strategy, structures, processes, and systems have a big impact on companies’ success . They are at the core of almost all activities of top managers dominating the agenda of boards and project portfolios.

The topics are very diverse. Ranging from growth strategies over reorganization, process optimization, and restructuring to the enhancement of core IT-systems. In theory, these concepts are clear and simple. In practice, however, businesses often fail to push these changes quickly and successfully.

Our experience shows there are 3 main reasons why business projects fail:

    1. Low quality strategic content: Experts and managers are rarely proven strategy experts. This is why the quality of the content is often low. Managers tend to pick an inappropriate level of detail as they think about strategy only in terms of headlines. Experts often get lost in details and data analytics fail to focus on the big picture. Instead of working on relevant options and evaluating them pragmatically, companies often work on detailed concepts for many months. Although these might be technically correct, the basic decisions are incorrect
    2. Lack of courage on all levels of the decision-making process: The human tendency to avoid mistakes be risk-averse (especially in wealthy countries) and the culture of many companies reduces responsibility taking, implementation orientation and the willingness to take necessary entrepreneurial take risks. Uncomfortable questions are avoided, answers are delegated to the bottom and/or the top and unconventional solutions are not even discussed. The focus is on avoiding mistakes instead of striving for success
    3. Tunnel vision towards the “what”: Thinking about what a company should do, it is often neglected why or how they should do it. Consequently, the executive board and the employees are often disoriented and unemotional or, even worse, unmotivated and frustrated

Doing it better

We would love to support you with our unique combination of classical strategy consulting and psychologically sound change expertise in order to conceptualize and implement your big topics. Among others our fields of expertise are strategic development and implementation, product development, innovation revamps, organizational design, development and implementation of mission statements and M&A processes.

How is Timmermann special in this?

Based on our expertise in classical strategy consulting firms like McKinsey, we combine high analytical and conceptual quality with our unique co-creation approach. This enables us to quickly provide high quality concepts that are goal-oriented, analytically structured, and aiming for a long-term development of your strategic competitive advantage. Additionally, we work with leaders and employees in a way that your expertise in the industry and business is fully integrated and you are happy with the result.

We use our competency as change managers in order to strengthen entrepreneurship, the responsibility taking and striving for success. We do so by using coaching, sparring, and participation within guidelines to foster individual insight processes. We also use interactive and strategic communication and implementation concepts to entirely think through the implementation process. Our clients especially appreciate how we combine both “hard” and “soft” factors, often even within one meeting.

We focus on the question “Why?” and “How?” with the same clarity and professionalism as on the “What?” question. This allows us to shape change with you, such as mission statement development processes through experienced moderators addressing the true key points

Performance transformation

Many companes are familiar with the following unpleasant scenario: Business results at least in some units are disappointing, yet many people feel overworked. Nobody finds the time to do things that are important but not really urgent. Strategy, Leadership, and teamwork are neglected and everybody works on emergency projects. Talented people leave, partially because they are overwhelmed, partially because they are not challenged. The bottom line is not satisfying and stress spreads throughout the company.

How can you break this vicious cycle?


  1. Focus! A performance transformation aims at increasing the part of work for everyone that is really adding value to the company.
  2. You can only successfully focus on the relevant aspects of work by lowering the pace in other carefully selected areas. Carefully investing time and money in agreeing on essentials, truly high quality teamwork, and development of skills are key factors for quicker and more relevant results with less stress.
  3. A good performance transformation will focus on all 4 change levers. Clear boundaries and inspiring guiding principles will motivate your team to fully engage in the transformation. A goal-oriented development of methodological skills following real challenges will lead to improve in efficiency and effectiveness. Leaders who critically reflect on their own contribution to the stressful firefighting culture and change their behavior will encourage others to change, too. Clearly defined and binding end-to-end processes as well as clear project decisions will provide structure and avoid a waste of energy.

Timmermann Partners is the ideal partner to for a performance transformation

We will use our strength of being the market leader in the combination of change and strategy to support you.

We adhere to a reeeally holistic approach and are able to spontaneously and flexibly intervene where it adds the most value to a permanent performance transformation. We do so regardless of the task being a quantitative analysis, a team conflict resolution, providing guidance to insecure leadership or adjusting your portfolio of different business areas.

We use a variety of twists to shorten programs and achieve results quickly. For instance, we use mixed group workshops and combine skill development with usable work results in practical workshops to avoid interface problems early on. Using hypothesis-based thinking and pragmatic key figures we help to find a way through the confusing jungle of facts. Besides, we are flexible enough to switch between CEO coaching and operative support of teams in one day.

Strategy development

“What do we want to do and what not?” This question lies at the core of the supreme discipline in consulting: strategy development.

There are many occasions, e.g., the start of a new board or CEO, crises, or a change in the value chain, the desire to grow or entrepreneurial spirit.

In any case this means that every relevant aspect will be questioned in order to eventually develop a promising, clear, and practical strategy.

At least that’s the theory. In reality, this process fails more often than it succeeds. Managers get lost in details of individual analyses. Some board members have extreme visions, which are neither based on facts nor easily put into practice. Caught between stepwise adaptation of the existing strategy and a complete revolution there is often no success at all.

With globalization, digitization, and financial crises, strategy development becomes even more complex. We live in a volatile world, that changes quickly and unpredictably making it difficult for management teams to adapt their strategy. Consequently, besides the question “What?” the questions “Why?” and “How?” are becoming increasingly important. Answering these questions provides orientation and helps to adapt strategies more quickly without being arbitrary. This can also be done decentralized and close to the current market.

How does goal-oriented, pragmatic, and high quality strategy development work in a volatile world?

  1. Jointly thinking and feeling deeply when deciding on big guidelines. What are our guiding principles (mission, values, and vision) ? On which goals and initiatives will we focus? What will we eliminate? These basic decisions require an intensive joint reflection period of the managing board. In this context intuition and emotions should be considered, too. Being thorough and focusing on quality at this stage will prevent chaos, waste of time, confusion, and conflicts later on.
  2. The right method mix. A carefully chosen combination of few, pragmatic core analyses with clearly defined decision criteria will lead to quick and relevant results. Participative and discursive elements can be helpful, discussing with essential stakeholders and experts. It’s also important to create a common frame for communication of everyone involved (e.g., strategy story, change story, guiding principles). Having external support including unconventional methods in a guided process will help the managing board to focus entirely on the content.
  3. Factoring in the implementation from the beginning. Clear and personal communication regarding major decisions as well as moderated participative and binding processes are crucial for everybody to understand a new strategy. It is very important that both managers and employees consider the change to be meaningful. At the same time, the development process can be used to build essential skills that are also relevant for the implementation later on (e.g., structured problem solving with appropriate levels of detail, designing practical solutions). The management team need to act as role models in learning by showing their own development related to the implications of the strategy.



Our unique combination of strategic top management consulting and psychological change expertise is ideal for strategy development

We manage the entire strategy development process. This may include developing guiding principles (mission, values, vision), creating a strategy story, conflict resolution in the leadership team, prioritizing and implementing core analyses, teaching methods to involved Managers, and coaching of key people.

We take on many different roles – strategy consultant (based on our experience in classical strategy consulting firms like McKinsey and BCG), moderator, coach, trainer, mediator, communication expert, mentor, and feedback provider. Depending on the management team’s needs, we might even spontaneously switch roles in the middle of a meeting.

From the beginning, we think through strategy development, communication, and implementation together in order to avoid typical mistakes.

We use a variety of unconventional methods, e.g.:

  • Guiding principles workshops (to develop/update a company’s mission, values, and vision)
  • Analytical tools, such as a deductive issue tree, value driver tree, initiative portfolio, strategy story, prioritization matrix, cost curve, and market potential analysis
  • Simulation tools, e.g., scenario analysis and sensitivity analysis, persona creation, and process simulation workshops
  • Strategic sparring and optional executive coaching


Good corporate guiding principles are an essential piece of a company: A clear mission statement makes managers and employees proud. The shared values are lived in daily interactions and are considered in smaller and bigger decisions. An inspiring vision will motivate and make employees smile. It is also a guideline for any important decision: Will this get us closer to realizing our vision?

Unfortunately, reality if often different:

  • The corporate guiding principles are primarily an unstructured glossy magazine
  • They are complicated, not unique, and logically flawed
  • The values are pinned to the wall somewhere without anyone really paying attention to them
  • Many do not even know the guiding principles
  • Hardly anyone knows what they mean for him/her in particular

The basics: good corporate guiding principles

Corporate guiding principles need to be simple and easy to understand in order for them to serve their powerful purpose. Evidently, these principles are based on many complex thoughts. In workshops specifically tailored to developing these principles, leaders will need to make many essential and future-oriented decisions. Sooner or later employees of other hierarchical levels should also be involved in this process. These efforts will pay off later on. Good guiding principles will have a powerful impact and determine the company’s direction.

The finalized version of the corporate guiding principles should be simple. The mission is one single, easily comprehensible sentence stating the organization’s “reason of existence”. It is strongly related to the organizational identity and states what exactly the organization is primarily committed to. An example of the Ritz-Carlton hotels: “We are ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen”.

Ideally, the values should be only a few principles. They convey a clear idea of the behavior that is appropriate for and desired by the organization. They also explain how individual employees can apply the organization’s mission in everyday life. Therefore, values provide real guidelines for daily behavior. Using some examples of Ritz-Carlton hotels:

  1. I build strong relationships and create Ritz-Carlton guests for life
  2. I am always responsive to the expressed and unexpressed wishes and needs of our guests
  3. I am empowered to create unique, memorable, and personal experiences for our guests
  4. I own and immediately resolve guest problems
  5. I create a work environment of teamwork and lateral service so that the needs of our guests and each other are met
  6. I am involved in the planning of the work that affects me

Ideally, the vision is one single inspiring sentence describing the future the organization is headed towards. It should be ambitious but realistic given hard work and a little luck. Compared to the organizational mission and values, the vision is usually not public but only internally addressed

The implementation: truly living the guiding principles

Good guiding principles are the starting point of entrepreneurial goals and strategies. All goals and strategic initiatives can be evaluated according to their contribution to reaching the organizational vision. Therefore, the guiding principles help to focus. A strategy development project is a way of using the corporate guiding principles effectively. In addition, the guiding principles should provide an orientation for managers and employees for daily decisions and actions. The mission, values, and vision need to become common cultural assets in the company to fulfill this purpose.

We use “What do the guiding principles mean for me?” workshops to develop with individual units and teams how these principles will impact the unit and its individual employees. The short and easily comprehensible guiding principles need to be omnipresent, for instance on business cards, in tea kitchens, in email footers and personal conversations. In fact, implementing guiding principles are not a project but a continuous process.

The Timmermann effect on corporate guiding principles

Using clear logic and the classical consultant skills “simplify and structure” we help our clients develop thought-out and comprehensible guiding principles. Additionally, we bring creativity into the process through our energy, happiness, and method know how. We use change expertise already throughout the guiding principles development in order to involve the extended leadership team that plays a crucial role in the implementation. Being experienced in cultural development processes, we also manage to make the “soft side” of the guiding principles more tangible.

Cultural due diligence

In “due diligences”, purely economical criteria usually have priority. Many studies show, however, that the main reason for why many M&A activities fail is the neglect of so-called soft aspects such as culture and leadership.

Do you remember the merger of Daimler and Chrysler in 1998? Different portfolios and client bases – the merger could have been a great success. Unfortunately, especially some of the soft factors did not match. For instance, take a look at cooperation and values. While Daimler embraced more authoritative communication and quality, Chrysler valued team orientation and cheap prices. The cultural aspects of the merger were virtually not managed. It did not end well.

Look out for a cultural fit

In a cultural due diligence, we put an emphasis on soft factors, e.g.,:

  • Decision-making and leadership style
  • Entrepreneurial thinking and acting incl., e.g., appropriate risk-taking
  • Work ethics and responsibility taking
  • Collectivism, e.g., to what degree is there a silo culture?
  • Efficiency and striving for excellence
  • Openness for change and dealing with problems
  • Degree of professionalism
  • Identification with the company
  • customer orientation

We use customized methods for our clients, such as depth interviews, structured observations, document analysis, employee interviews, and cultural diagnostic workshops. Based on the results of these analyses and our experience with M&A activities we derive potentials and risks helping our clients to make investment decisions based on all important factors including the soft ones.

We do not only support before the merger/acquisition

Our clients really appreciate it when we use the insights of a cultural due diligence in case of a positive M&A decision in the time that follows. We help develop, plan and apply actions to facilitate the merger and leverage synergies. Handling the typically strong feelings of insecurity through appropriate communication and tangible trust building exercises, is a crucial success factor. If desired, we support our clients throughout the culture development process for the new company. Ideally, the best of both worlds is merged embarking on a journey towards a new and even better joint culture.

Timmermann combines strategy and culture

We are not only organizational psychologists and culture experts but also former consultants in leading strategy consultancies like McKinsey & BCG. This is why we also grasp the strategic fit of two companies tailoring the (also cultural) integration of the companies according to their strategy. You’re welcome to find out more about our M&A change approach. We are a very active member of the German M&A Association and give regular lectures on the topic.


Whether it’s strong growth, building new business fields, M&A, or a new strategy – whenever a company is tackling something big, there will be a point when the existing organizational structure is no longer a fit. A new organizational design is needed following the strategy because the structural design of your company has a significant impact on the efficiency and cooperation of your employees and thus the success of your business. 3 statements on this:

  1. Organizational design is complex to do – and there are many things that can go wrong: Structuring along countries, products, tasks? Matrix – yes or no? Centralized or decentralized? Flat or steep hierarchies? Fixed teams or project structures? Geographical grouping or virtual cooperation? How can unnecessary new problems be prevented – silo cultures, long coordination processes, and too much  complexity?
  2. Reorganizations are often exhausting and political – leaders want to keep or extend their power, employees are afraid to lose their jobs, individuals and theoretical best solutions often don’t fit. Thus, it’s just a matter of time for conflicts to come up. Consequently, an optimal solution is impossible in practice.
  3. Reorganizations are sometimes not enough – Often (not always) they serve as a distracting impulse to cover problems in other areas of the business. How can you determine whether the problem is actually about, e.g., leaders’ responsibility taking, culture, or missing/problematic process organization?

In the worst case a reorganization brings about tons of work, conflict, and difficulties dealing with change. Results may not fulfill expectations.

How to best solve the problems of a reorganization?

First of all, you need a clean, analytical understanding of the organizational options and their implications.

Before starting to shuffle around boxes in org charts, a workflow analysis and visualization, a process structure mapping, a stakeholder analysis and an analysis of leadership and hierarchical levels may help to gain a basic understanding for the new design.

Secondly, the decision-making process as well as communication and implementation need to be clear and participative in nature.

Neither pure top-down decisions nor mass discussions under the umbrella of “grassroots democracy” are particularly useful. Instead, big decisions need to be made quickly and on a sound basis in the upper leadership team and then be communicated in a way that detail solutions can be developed integrating important stakeholders in a second step. It is helpful to test and simulate processes early to avoid lengthy planning cycles and mistakes due to a lack of practical experience. Regarding the implementation, it is crucial to consider all 4 change levers, e.g., using a clear change story with personal communication and skill building or defining and practicing new roles.

Thirdly, every reorganization needs to be embedded in a holistic vision of the organization, e.g., using pragmatic but in-depth change diagnostics in workshops and depth interviews as well as related further actions in order to tackle the roots of problems underlying the need for a reorganization.

The Timmermann combination

We would love to support you throughout your reorganization process. As the market leader in combining strategy and change management consulting, we go through the entire process with you. Starting with diagnostics and analyses, throughout the moderation of significant decision-making processes to even the implementation. We will serve as process moderators and analytical Consultants, if you’d like us to.

We combine organizational psychology with business expertise as well as our competence as change consultants in order to make your reorganization a success. Our consultants are fast at designing a clear analytical and diagnostic basis for the decision-making process including the simulation of significant implications. We are at your side as Moderators, systematically dealing with the obstacles and (often hidden) representations of individual interests. We prepare you as your trainers for professionally handling “losers” and delivering “bad news” (incl. layoffs, if need be). We also support you as Coaches in the process of communication and participative development of detail solutions.

Besides the classical change methods, we also use specific tools, e.g.:

  • Established pragmatic analysis tools, such as process structure mapping, workflow analysis and capacity planning
  • Tools to facilitate significant decision-making processes, such as morphological boxes for big decisions and process simulations to develop detailed, practical solutions
  • Innovative methods using design thinking to develop unconventional solutions tailored to your needs



What do long product cycle times, firefighting actions, and frustrating meetings have in common? Correct – often these are the result of inefficient processes. It does not matter if you build airplanes, manage facilities, develop software, or invest money: Processes are everywhere and mostly they have either historically grown into the wrong direction or were flawed from the start.

Additionally, the pressure on the company rises constantly:

  • Decreasing product life cycles
  • Increasing customer expectations
  • Rising competition, nationally and internationally
  • Less and less time for day-to-day business

This is why processes and requirement changes are often insufficiently adjusted rather than reassessed or fundamentally developed. Although this might help in the short term, it complicates the process and especially the interface with other processes in the long term.

Using process optimization methods, we stabilize and accelerate our clients’ processes. That is explicitly not to say that we want the same work to be done faster but to achieve the same results with as little effort as possible.

The phases of process optimization

Usually, we work on the process optimization together with a team from the client side.

  1. First, we determine where the actual challenge in the process is. We interview/survey employees and customers, analyze data and documents and observe. Once problematic processes are identified, we systematically depict and display the status quo.
  2. Subsequently, we determine together what exactly needs to change and develop a target process. We work in agreement with the processes’ stakeholders, thus e.g., with process owners, employees, customers, and/or suppliers.
  3. We then systematically analyze the differences between the current and the target state, define tangible challenges and clarify their real sources. Once the causes are determined, we develop actions, prioritize them, and develop an implementation plan considering all relevant change aspects. We then roll out the plan together with our clients.

Why process optimization with Timmermann Partners?

It is an understatement to say that it is frustrating for clients to spend a large amount of time and energy on developing processes, that are eventually not put into practice and only serve as expensive slides.

We do not only have the experience in analysis, design, and implementation of processes. We also know where and how exactly employees need to be integrated, routines retrained, customers surveyed, interfaces considered, trainings conducted, key people coached and inspiration created. Without change there won’t be sustainability. We do not only support our clients at one-time process optimization but also on the journey towards a highly flexible organization with continuously self-optimizing processes.